Looking to start your own clothing brand or an apparel company? You’ve come to the right place!
“I do feel that if one wants to make an impact, it’s best to try and carve a unique path. While riskier, I think the rewards are much greater.”
If you have an idea on how to be unique with your designs, go for it and stick with it! It’s going to be risky and could prove to be difficult, but those are what you have to go through if you want to create something great. Evan, the founder of Adapt Clothing, knows all about this. Scroll down now to read more about the brand’s success and story!
How or what should we call you (the founder’s name), and what is the name of your brand? What is the meaning behind the name of the brand? And how did you know that you were sure about the name?
My name is Evan Lessler, and I am the founder and creative director of Adapt. The story of coming up with the name involves an old logo, and Adapt was the only word I could spell out of these certain shapes. So it was very random at first, but has grown to be a very meaningful and purposeful name for the brand that it has become.
When did you launch? When was the moment that you knew that you’re going to start your own brand? What was that “thing” that triggered you to start it? Did you see something online or did you see a gap in the market and thought to yourself that you are the one to fill that gap?
Adapt officially launched in 2003, while I was in college. I knew that I wanted to have a clothing company since high school. I thought that I could take a different approach to clothing that I didn’t see in the current brands that I liked, and that were in the marketplace.
How would you describe your brand? What category would it be in?
Our brand has generally been categorized as streetwear, but I don’t know if that really applies anymore. It’s a lifestyle brand geared towards things that I find interesting or that I am passionate about.
What was your very first design? What was the inspiration behind it? In fact, what is your inspiration for the whole brand? Do you remember your first sale? When was the first time that you sold one of your products? Was it your very first design? How many days, weeks or months after officially opening your online store to the public? Was it sold to a friend or a person you didn’t know? How did you feel about this first sale?
My first design was the original Adapt logo. The first sale was for $7 to my housemate in college. It was a great feeling and a first step.
Was there a collection or design that you didn’t think would pop as much as it did? [Would you be able to send some photos for this collection?] Why did you think that it wouldn’t create that much impact? And after the response from your customers, did you get to a conclusion as to why it did sell more than what you thought?
The design that probably got the most attention in such a short amount of time was our JP tee, which was created as a fundraising tee for the Japan Tsunami in 2011. We released the tee the day after the earthquake, and the orders just began pouring in. So much so that I had to bring in a bunch of friends and family to help fulfill orders for the next couple of weeks. I think, in that case, people wanted a way to help, and we provided an option for them to do so, while also getting a tee in the process.
How did you get the brand out there? There are a lot of brands that come out almost every single day. What did you do to get recognized and show that your brand is different? Did you use social medias to get in touch with your customers? Was there a specific medium (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) that you believe that got you to connect with them more? And, why is that?
Adapt is pre-Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, so we didn’t deal with a lot of the same issues that new brands deal with today. Some of those things are an advantage, and some are a disadvantage. At the time, Myspace and Tumblr were popular, so we used those as platforms, and Facebook was just starting to get popular so we eventually used that as well as whatever other social media tools were available. We would also do local music, car, and clothing events to further get the name out there, and would try to get as many stores as we could to carry the product.
Are you full-time on your brand? When did you know that you got something going on? What I mean is that from that point on, you’re going to start focusing more of your time to the brand? Or was it right from the very beginning?
I am full-time on the brand, but for many years, I held a full-time position at various companies while building Adapt. The main one being Apple for almost 6 years as a graphic designer, and that allowed me to have the funds to do what I needed to do to get Adapt going.
For any business, they say that the first year is the hardest. Did you go through anything that got you demotivated? Was there ever a time that you thought that it wouldn’t work? Did anything happen that got you to this state? Then, how did you overcome this?
In this regard, my story is a little different. I took my time with the process because I had a full-time job at the same time. Things just picked up little by little every year, and there wasn’t really a time where I was concerned with the brand. Eventually it took on a life of its own at some point, and I had to give up the 9-5 gig.
What is the biggest achievement that you or the brand had so far? Was there a specific event that was so significant that it felt very fulfilling for you and the brand?
I think the projects I am most proud of are our charitable tees (called Adap+), in which we donate 100% of the proceeds to a specific cause. I believe that over the course of this program, we have raised almost $100,000 for various causes, including cancer, animal welfare, disaster relief and etc.
So, what’s next for the brand? Do you have some ideas already for the next collection or design? When will it be out? Or is there anything else that we should be on the lookout for? Something that might surprise us?
I think people will be happy with the direction the brand is going in the coming months and years. Having done it for so long now, I have a much more relaxed approach to the look and design, and I think that will be reflected in the products we produce.
Did you have any advice or tips for aspiring brand owners? Do you have anything to say that could help them whenever they’re about to get to the point of giving up?
I think its very easy for young brands to fall into certain styles and categories, and mimic what they already see in the marketplace. This is understandable as it is easier to emulate something that is popular, however, I do feel that if one wants to make an impact, it’s best to try and carve a unique path. While riskier, I think the rewards are much greater.
Finally, do you have one motivational quote that you always remember and say to yourself whenever you’re not feeling 100%? What would that be?
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
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